If you’re lacking in energy, it’s easy to feel like you’re not healthy enough, like you’re somehow missing something…
I’m going to walk through 3 kinds of energy lows, and what you can do to prevent them – because you want to have more energy, right?
Life is a whole lot more fun when you have the energy to go enjoy it! And the solutions are really simple.
1. Groggy in the AM
Culprit: This is most often caused by eating too much, or eating too late in the evening. Your body tries to do its cleansing overnight, but it can only happen if your digestive system has processed everything from your day.
A big meal – particularly one with lots of concentrated oil – can take 6 hours to digest. That means if you eat at 6pm, it will need until midnight to digest.
When you go to sleep, your body somewhat shuts down, and the digestive system pretty much closes up shop for the night. So eating too big a meal too late in the evening means that you won’t be cleansed out and ready to jump out of bed in the morning.
Solution: Eat a smaller, simpler dinner centered around complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, starchy vegetables)
It’s a pretty simple solution, but it’s hard to do sometimes because our culture focuses on dinner as the main meal. Try making a simple dinner, but do something fun in the evening like playing cards, going for a walk or watching a movie.
I like to focus on lunch as my main meal for the day, which works well because that’s when I’m hungriest! And then I keep things light at dinner, especially if I have a late meal after being out doing things.
2. Mid-Afternoon Crash
Culprit: This is most often caused by a sugar overdose and then crash. Maybe you had a soda or a candy bar at lunch, or after lunch.
When your body gets bombarded with refined sugars, they release so quickly that your body produces insulin like crazy to keep up. Then, when the sugar overdose abruptly stops, your body has to put the brakes on insulin production – but it can’t do that as quickly as the sugar because it’s not designed to handle sugars that process that quickly.
So what winds up happening is that you overproduce insulin, giving you a blood sugar drop – and energy crash. Kind of ironic, but that’s what happens.
Another reason for a mid-afternoon crash might be having too big a lunch. Much like what I mentioned above, if your body is putting too much energy into digesting a heavy lunch, you’ll feel low energy even though you ate lots of calories.
Solution: Eat a balanced lunch of complex carbs and protein (beans, quinoa, chickpeas and lentils have both!), and skip the sugary treats in favor of fruit.
Another Solution: Have an afternoon snack to boost energy – like fruit and nuts, or veggies/rice cakes and bean dip.
3. Evening Exhaustion
Culprit: The most likely culprit here is a lack of nutrients. If you aren’t eating enough healthy whole foods and fresh produce, you’re likely not getting enough of the important nutrients your body needs to fuel itself and support all your systems.
The most common vitamins lacking when you feel low energy are the B vitamins. There are a whole bunch of them, called the B Complex.
Magnesium is the most commonly lacking mineral, since it helps with energy production.
At a very basic level, you may just not be getting enough calories, or enough carbohydrates, which are your body’s main source of fuel.
Solution: Eat lots of fresh produce and healthy whole foods through your day!
For the B vitamins, get whole grains, beans/legumes and bananas. And for vegans you must take a B12 supplement
For magnesium, look to whole grains, dark green veggies and nuts (especially cashews, almonds and hazelnuts). Lots more ideas and links to recipes here: magnesium.
For complex carbs, go for whole grains, beans/legumes, fruit and veggies. You might also want to consider a multivitamin.
Jumpstart your energy levels with a 3-day tune-up!